GoIndigo: A Harrowing Experience

Is it about Customer Service, attitude or what in India?

I booked a ticket on the Goindigo website from Bangalore to Hyderabad and back. I was unable to travel as I fell sick and hence called the GoIndigo Contact Center on the morning of my travel to check with them on their terms and conditions and refund policy if any, despite having glanced through the same on their official website while booking my tickets.

I accepted and understood that I obviosuly would not receive a pie for the flight that was scheduled to depart Bangalore for Hyderbad in an hour’s time from the time I had called the contact center(fair enough). Then started the trauma. What was in store – hidden conditions and policies. I called the customer care not once but four times and learnt of a new condition each time from four different customer care executives(CCE) as mentioned below:

– I was told by one CCE that the return ticket from Hyderbad to Bangalore the same evening can be cancelled two hours prior to departure and then followed the hidden policy called: “CREDIT SHELL”(which I found no where on the website. Did I miss it?). As per the policy Rs.750/- is taken towards cancellation charges and the remaining amount is not refunded but goes in to the CREDIT SHELL against the specific Reference/PNR number which can be used at a later date.

– The second time I called to ask “if the passenger name and credit card used to book the ticket in the future has to be the same and how long this CREDIT SHELL will be valid for?’ I was told that either the same passenger or someone else can travel and the booking can be made with a different credit card. If a fresh booking is made with a different credit card, both the credit cards or photocopies used for the two transactions must be produced at the time of travel. None of these terms were spelt out until I kept asking.

– The third customer executive says: it is not possible to make use of the CREDIT SHELL while making a purchase online and the same has to be done only by calling the Contact Center or at the GoIndigo counter at the airport. I then request for my return ticket from Hyderabad to Bangalore to be cancelled and am told that I will receive an acknowledgement via email. I request the customer care executive to hold the call until I receive the cancellation confirmation in my inbox and he threatens to wait only two minutes. I explain that I cannot call again and repeat the same story to another of his colleague. He then asks: “Don’t you trust me?” I said: “It is not about trust, it’s about a system and professionalism.” He probably will leave the organization tomorrow and I need WRITTEN PROOF AT ANY COST(Btw does email serve as WRITTEN PROOF?). What if the cancellation does not take effect thanks to a technical snag and there goes my money – boom!

I also asked as to why I don’t see any of this on the ticket or website and I am told that it is very much mentioned. I read out the terms and conditions listed on the ticket(that does not state the cancellation amount) and that neither does the ‘FAQ’ section nor the ‘Terms & Conditions’ section have any such information about cancellation policies. The CCE then says everything can’t be listed on the website.

Convincing arguement, ain’t it?

– Phew, I wait for the acknowledgement and what do I recieve in place of a cancellation confirmation along with my credit shell details – only my onward itenarary of my ticket from Bangalore to Hyderabad that I did not board. Not a word about my return ticket(Hyderabad to Bangalore), credit shell, cancellation charges, etc. I call again and this time, the 4th CCE says: “Don’t you understand Indigo is a non-refundable airline?”. I then told him that it is he and Indigo who needs to learn English and understand the meaning of the word “non-refundable”. How does the CREDIT SHELL make sense if they are a non-refundable airline? It obvisouly is a refund in KIND and NOT in CASH.

The executive then says he will put me on to his supervisor, puts me on hold for ever and then comes back after a good ten minutes saying his supervisor is not available and that I will receive a cancellation confirmation along with credit shell and other details in 24hours. Back to square one, aren’t we? What is the point of receiving a cancelation reciept after the flight has departed and reached it’s destination? What if I don’t recieve the said email? What proof do I have and why on earth do I have tp put up with all of this? After all I am a customer and I deserve better treatment, I paid for the ticket and did not ask for it for free!

Systematic that I am for whatever it is worth I drafted a detailed email(I am known as the email queen amongst my ex-collegues. Finally came of some use) and sent it to the Indigo Customer Care. Not to forget these executives are rather impolite making statements like: “I don’t care a damn if you have to complain”. When I say “YOU” why don’t they(CCEs) understand that it is the organisation that I am refering to and NOT A PARTICULAR INDIVIDUAL and unfortunately they are a part of that entity. I don’t know you after all and what personal enimity would I have with you? As a customer I will demand and fight for my rights. I understand that these executives have limited power, have to deal with umpteen customers a day and repeat the same point like a parrot but sadly that is their job(I respect that) and there is little I can do about it.

I remember reading a similar incident that Kiruba faced: The Clear Trip Episode: My Experience

Am I hassled or is that an understatement? ‘A Harrowing Experience’ is probably an apt phrase. For the life of me neither can I understand the HR world nor the way Customer Service functions in my part of the universe.

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